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The Birth of Invincible Spirit

The foremost positive and constructive effect of patience is to produce a strong and invincible personality. Like a good physical exercise programme makes a person strong and healthy to enable him to offer better physical resistance. Secondly, it produces all the required elements for achieving success in accomplishment of aims, fulfillment of desires, be material or ideological, among the patient individuals.

The defeats and failures suffered during the social, religious, and ideological struggle has had a devastative moral effect, a blow, inflicted by the vincible and week mentality upon the determination to carry on the struggle, whose damage and devastation is many times severe than the losses inflicted by trained professional armed forces and their armament.

The solther,1 who decided to run away from the battlefield turning his back to the enemy has indeed first suffered a moral defeat, before giving up his physical strength. Until this psychological defeat is not inflicted upon him, it is impossible that a soldier will be able to turn his back and run away from the battlefield.

The historic behaviour of Tariq bin Ziyad -The commander of the Muslim army -- the brave Muslim commander and victor of a portion of Spain in the year 94 Hijri (711 A.D.), who after crossing the Mediterranean Sea and stepping upon enemy land, ordered the burning of all his ships, is an example of this invincible spirit. The prime quality of patience is to produce such an invincible spirit in a patient person.

Those individuals, who while facing routine events of day-to-day life, such as financial losses, sickness, frustration, hatred, and death etc... do not offer resistance and endurance, and very soon become dejected, aggrieved, annoyed, and helpless, when confronted with obstacles in their path, and thereby leave the scene of struggle and are suspectable to instant defeat. Contrary to these individuals of weak mentality there are those, who in confronting every event in their life use patience as their ultimate winning weapon, and offer resistance in the best possible manner, achieving an invincible morale and strong will power to face the problems of life.

An impatient person could be compared to a soldier in the battlefield who is fighting virtually naked without armour. Such an ill-equiped soldier is most likely to be killed and disappear from the scene during the very first encounter. With the same analogy a patient person could be compared to a soldier who is clad in a coat of mail from head to toes, and is fully equipped with all the required armaments. Obviously to defeat such a well equipped soldier by the enemy is relatively a difficult task.

The one, who would never be defeated in the battlefield of life, is the one who had already made all the necessary arrangements, by putting on the armour of patience. Such a person, never gets defeated easily, and when faced with problems and unpleasant events, which abound at every step on the road of perfection and prosperity, never flinches his eyebrows, and his legs and heart remain firm and stable without showing the least signs of trembling.

The following narration from Imam Sadiq (A.S.) throws ample light about the depth of this divinely inspired Islamic characteristic:

"Any one who has not prepared for himself logistics of patience to meet every tragedy will find himself in a state of despair and helplessness" (Tuhaf-al-Aqool)

It means that the one who has not planned in advance, how to face the problems and unexpected tragedies of life, and has not developed within himself a spirit of resistance, would soon find himself in a state of despair and helplessness. The opposite of this is, if some one for confrontation with tragedies has equipped himself with the logistics of patience shall never face disappointment and defeat.

The secret of steadfastness and permanence of great builders of the history of mankind, and the foremost amongst them, the divine Prophets and other pious statesmen, who in spite of being inflicted with the most severe pains and tortures at the very beginning of their invitation, remained relatively active and stable, lies in the same point. With an accurate foresight regarding the bitterness and unpleasantness of this path, and with their properly being equipped with the logistics of patience, they were able to completely eliminate the possibilities of their psychological defeat and with the result converted themselves into robust and invincible creatures.

Their opponents and enemies that in many instances were equipped with all kinds of resources became tired and helpless, but these great men in spite of being deprived of proper resources diligently continued their heroic invincible resistance.

Mutawakkil the Abbasid2 caliph once said:

"Ibn al-Redha3 has put me in a state of perplexion."

How someone like Imam Hadi4 (A.S.), who has spent most of the period of his leadership under the intense pressure of the ruling regime of caliph Mutawakkil, was in a position to put the powerful caliph in a state of annoyance. When one among the two combatant adeverseries is weak as regards to the outwardly resources, but inspite of being faced with imprisonment, deprivations, being away from the comfortable and secured environment, does not get harassed, pressures and hardships does not break his iron will, and inspite of all these obstacles on the path of his cherished goals, continues his long term march. It is obvious that his adversary who, in spite of having equipped with better material resources lacks the commitment and strong spritual faith and therefore becomes easily harassed and defeated.

Certainly, an impatient wayfarer cannot without first getting himself tired, at the same time, would be able to make his adversary tired undoubtedly he is going to loose and be defeated. This is the strange characterstic of patience which makes a person invincible.

1 General George C. Marshall, a great soldier had stated that "you can have all the material in the world, but without morale it is largely inaffective". He also said: "It is not enough to fight, it is the spirit which we bring to the fight which decides the issue. It is morale that wins the victory." (Tr)

2 Mutawakkil: one of the Abbasid caliphs who was specially hostile to the Ahl-ul-Bait and their followers, ruled from 232/847 to 247/861 (Tr.)

3 After Imam al-Redha (A.S.) the 8th Imam, three successive Imams till the 11th Imam and some other prominent descendants of the 8th Imam, during that period were called "Ibn al-Redha". In the above sentence the reference is to Imam Hadi (A.S.) the 10th Imam.

4 The important point in this narration is the importance of predicting dangers in advance, while making preparations for struggle. Perhaps, those who without considering the potential dangers, conducted a dangerous operation, do not have the strength to confront the danger and therefore as soon as they face the signs of potential danger, became disappointed, ashamed and helpless.

Adapted from the book: "Discourse on Patience" by: "Seyyed Ali Khamenei'i"

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